Jurgen Klopp says playing Real Madrid in the Champions League final feels like destiny, and the Liverpool boss insists Manchester City will be ready for Sunday’s clash with Newcastle.
Liverpool trail Manchester City by a point and can put the pressure back on the reigning champions with a positive result against top-four chasing Tottenham on Saturday.
City suffered an agonising Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid in midweek, with the Spanish side now Liverpool’s opponents in Paris later this month in a repeat of the 2018 final, which Real won 3-1.
“When we lost that final, my ideal solution was to play Real Madrid again. Madrid seems to be our destiny,” Klopp said ahead of the visit of Spurs.
“It was strange and [the game and the result was] unlucky for City. They [Real] got through PSG, Chelsea and Man City [to get to the final]. If you knock out these three guys then you deserve to be there.
“Yeah, it will be great. That we were not happy that night [in Kyiv in 2018] is clear, but that was a while ago. But I am happy to go there and give it a try, but until then there are a lot of games.”
Pep Guardiola’s side had a two-goal advantage on aggregate after 89 minutes of Wednesday’s second leg against Madrid, but Rodrygo’s two goals in the 90th and 91st minutes took the tie to extra-time before Karim Benzema scored a penalty early in the first period to knock out City.
But Klopp doubts City’s players will be suffering a hangover from the defeat on Sunday when Newcastle arrive at the Etihad Stadium.
“It was a massive blow. I think everyone was ready to switch the TV off,” Klopp said. “It was really harsh, I can imagine. I had nights like this, not cool but they will be ready for Sunday.”
Spurs also have a lot riding on the game, with a place in next season’s Champions League firmly in their sights. Klopp is braced for a difficult encounter against Antonio Conte’s team on Saturday.
Klopp said: “It’s a massive, massive test. If I was watching from the outside, I would say that would be difficult for Liverpool, but I don’t have to look from the outside because from the inside I know it will be difficult.
“All the teams fight for something but Tottenham obviously has massive quality. They have some of the best counter-attacking players in the world.
“The main challenge is the quality of the opponent – when you think how they win games, they are a brilliant football team. Up front, Harry Kane, what a player, ideal for that system [and with the attacking players there is] a blind understanding between them.
“That’s football, we have to find a way to keep them calm for as long as possible, because that will not be possible all the time. We know it is difficult. We knew that when we started this a long time ago. We know this will be difficult as well, but we are looking forward to it.”
Having won four out of their last six games, Spurs travel to Anfield hoping to regain fourth spot before hosting Arsenal in a pivotal north London derby on May 12 at 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports.
”It will be a very good game for us, ” Conte said.
”I say to my players, we need to be brave on the ball. Don’t be afraid to press and find the solution to get three points.
”We are very much in this race to get Champions League. Every game is a big chance to progress in the table.”
Mohamed Salah has admitted everyone at Liverpool wanted to play Real Madrid in this month’s Champions League final – with the pain of 2018 still on the players’ minds.
Salah did not hide the fact he preferred to play Real than Premier League rivals City in the May 28 showpiece event – and it was an easy pick between the two.
“If you ask everybody [at Liverpool], everyone wanted that game,” Salah exclusively told Sky Sports. “I don’t know why we’re not allowed to talk about it but I’m ok to talk about it – I wanted that game! I wanted to play Real Madrid before that game [against Manchester City].
“Of course, I’m not giving too much credit to them. They’re an unbelievable team with a great coach, great players. When they asked me who I wanted, I said Madrid. It’s an easy answer.”
Liverpool’s bid to win a historic Quadruple has now gone further into a season than any other English side following their semi-final win against Villarreal to reach the Champions League final.
Jurgen Klopp’s team headed to Spain in midweek leading 2-0 and, despite an early scare as Villarreal levelled the tie with two first-half goals, Liverpool fought back to win 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate to book their place in the Paris final on May 28 against Real Madrid.
Liverpool have now surpassed the Chelsea side of 2006/07, whose own Quadruple challenge lasted all the way until May 1 of that campaign before losing to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.
The next leg of the Quadruple will come against Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 14, a repeat of this season’s League Cup final, which the Reds won on penalties in February.
Meanwhile, in the race for the Premier League, Liverpool are still just a point behind City as we enter the final four games of the season after an impressive unbeaten run in the league saw the champions’ seemingly unsurmountable 14-point lead on January 15 evaporate.
In total, Liverpool will face a gruelling six-match schedule in May now they have made it through to the final of the European Cup at the Stade de France.
May 7 – Tottenham (h) Premier League
May 10 – Aston Villa (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 14 – Chelsea (Wembley) FA Cup final
May 17 – Southampton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 28 – Real Madrid (Stade de France) Champions League final
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